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Inside the Jaguars: QB competition heats up

Posted Jul 27, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert says offense continuing to search for consistency on Day 2 of 2013 Training Camp.

JACKSONVILLE – The search for consistency continues.

That’s true for the Jaguars’ offense overall early in 2013 training camp, and while it remained true for quarterback Blaine Gabbert Saturday, he said this much is true, too:

He knows the mistakes he made Saturday morning aren’t acceptable.

And he knows it’s an area that needs to improve.

“They can’t happen,” Gabbert said of at least three fumbled snaps that stood out Saturday in what at times was a difficult second day of 2013 training camp for the second-year veteran.

“That falls on me. You’ve got to get with the center and get snaps. They’re going to happen, but it’s an unforced error that you can’t afford to have.”

The play of Gabbert and Chad Henne was the focus for many on the second day of Jaguars training camp Saturday, with the two being the early leaders in what Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley called entering training camp an “open competition.”

Bradley in his post-practice remarks praised Henne for his play during a mid-practice two-minute drill, saying, “He had his opportunity and did a nice job with it.”

Henne drove the Jaguars to an apparent touchdown in the two-minute drill, though officials waved off the touchdown to Mohamed Massaquoi after the fact when one official ruled the Massaquoi had stepped on the back line before the catch. Gabbert led an impressive drive on the next series in “two-minute,” with wide receiver Toney Clemons failing to hold a potential touchdown in the back of the end zone.

Observers and media rushed to judgment on the day, with many proclaiming Henne to have had the better day. Jaguars beat reporter Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union unofficially had Gabbert 18 of 30 in 11-on-11 with Henne 18 of 24, noting that Gabbert’s biggest issue was the botched snaps.

Such will be the nature of the coming weeks:

A winner will be declared many days by observers, and judgments will be rapid, but Henne probably summed up the state of the competition two days in and for the foreseeable future when he said, “I don’t know if we’re worried about the results. . . . Each and every day we just have to bring our A-game and show them that we are consistent on a consistent basis.”

Just where does the competition stand? Bradley said the reality is it’s early, that competition will continue, and that Henne and Gabbert will continue to split reps with the first- and second-unit as was the case Saturday. When asked about Gabbert’s fumbles, he said while he did good things, the fumbles certainly weren’t acceptable, and that they wouldn’t be tolerated. Mostly, he said, the early part of camp is as much about how a player responds to a difficult day as how he performs on the good ones.

“We might look at them as a whole but right now we’re saying let’s see how they bounce back, everything’s in, let’s go and let’s see what takes place,” Bradley said.

Gabbert said for now the focus is improving an overall offense that has been inconsistent early in camp, whoever the quarterback.

“We talked about it after practice – there are a lot of ups and downs right now,” Gabbert said. “(offensive coordinator) Jedd (Fisch) mentioned it to me, it’s like an echocardiogram. What we’re trying to do right now is be consistent. We have three great plays and one bad play; four great plays and one bad play; two good plays and one bad play.

“What we’re working through right now is getting back into the swing of things and getting our level of play very consistent. That’s our main focus right now. We’re going to keep working on it.”

DAY 2 OF TRAINING CAMP PHOTO GALLERY

Also Saturday:

*Defensive end Pannel Egboh got work with the first team Saturday. Bradley said he likes to work young players in with the starters at various times in training camp. “We will get our guys pushed in there and see how they handle that stage,” Bradley said.

*While temperatures were again around 88 at the end of practice, players said afterward practice didn’t seem as warm as Saturday’s, when several players experienced problems with cramps.

*Rookie safety Josh Evans, one of the players who sustained a cramp Friday, said he knew immediately it was a cramp and not an injury – though he limped from the field without weight on a leg. “My foot actually locked,” he said. “It got stuck there, so people thought I had broken my foot, but I knew it was cramps.”

*One of the standout players early in camp has been wide receiver Ace Sanders, a wide receiver from South Carolina and the Jaguars’ fourth-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. He has shown good ability to get open early, and caught five-to-seven passes in practice Saturday. “I knew I could do it,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting out here and doing it.”

*Asked if he was maxing out, Sanders smiled, “I can’t really say. It differs when the game time comes. There could be more, but I’m going full right now. There’s a bunch of guys trying to earn a spot.”

*Center Brad Meester laughed off mid-practice altercation with free-agent defensive tackle Roy Miller, saying the two talked about it shortly after practice. “You guys love the stupid skirmish,” the 14-year veteran said, laughing. . . .

*Meester said Miller came off a little low in a pass-rushing drill. “It seemed like a bull rush,” he said. “We’re not in pads and it’s not really a bull-rush time. It led to a little argument. That stuff’s going to happen a thousand times before the end of camp. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. We didn’t fight. We didn’t swing.”

*Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert has been declared symptom-free following a Friday head injury, but has not been cleared to practice. “It’s not a concussion,” Bradley said. “I just know we’re holding him out and they’re doing some tests on him still.”

*Attendance at practice was 2,067, according to the team.

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